Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop
121 North Gregson Street, Durham
Katie and Justin Meddis opened Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop in 2013, serving the unusual double duty of a pastry shop and a butchery. The shop gained a devoted following for ice cream sandwiches, lard caramels, ramen bowls, and homemade sausages.
For the Meddises, this year has been one of bigger transitions: the chef-owners had a baby six months ago and, last week, transformed Rose’s into a sit-down, twenty-seat restaurant.
Both Justin and Katie started working in restaurants as teenagers and carved out remarkable paths in the restaurant industry before moving back to North Carolina. Justin worked at Emeril’s in Orlando, Cypress in Charleston as sous chef, the Michelin-starred, now-shuttered Ame, and the ever-popular Nojo Ramen, both in San Francisco. Katie worked at Magnolia’s Blossom and Cypress in Charleston, and as a pastry chef at the acclaimed Chez Panisse in San Francisco.
“Chez Panisse was fancy but simple,” says Katie, “and I think that we both opened our eyes to that style of food when we were in California. That translates into what we’re doing hereworking with really good ingredients and letting those ingredients shine.”
Justin and Katie have been eager to get back to their restaurant roots in the reimagined Rose’s. The menu focuses on local ingredients and fresh approaches. One salad, for example, features thin shavings of pickled pork skin tangled with seasonal greens and fragrant herbs, crisp fried rice, and topped with chopped peanuts. Brothy, rich soups get a base of handmade noodles.
We sat down with Katie before opening to talk about the new venture. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday eleven a.m. to seven p.m. and Sunday eleven a.m. to five p.m.
INDY: What was your plan and vision for transforming Rose’s into a restaurant?
KATIE MEDDIS: We obviously wanted delicious food and a casual atmosphere, but really solid stuff. A small menu focused on each dish so that it’s well executed. We’ll still be following the same practices with using whole animals, [like] whole pigs for the ramen. We’re focusing on lunch and early dinner and then will move into European-style breakfast, like standing at a counter and eating a pastry, drinking a cup of coffee. After that, we’ll move into dinner until ten p.m. or so.
The ramen has a strong following. What else can we expect on the menu?
The menu will change regularly. There’ll be a category of small plates or appetizers. We’ve been practicing a lot with different gyozas and dumplings. There’s a smaller seasonal tomato salad. And then there are slightly larger saladsa really nice Szechuan chicken salad, a cold salad with tons of herbsand sandwiches. We’re going to keep the sausage roll and then have two other kinds of sandwiches. The bigger dishes will be noodle bowls. The bakery side is going to stay completely the same. It’s kind of like a giant dessert cart. We might warm something up for you or add crème Chantilly or ice cream to it. Over time, whenever we move into proper dinner, we might have [an additional] small-plated dessert menu.
Why did you decide to move into the restaurant model?
The meat business is a tough business to be in. It’s not quite sustainable. Meat’s expensive for us to buy, it’s expensive for us to process, and then it’s expensive for people to buy. We decided that in order to keep us going, we’d have to change direction.
Is it a sad transition to be doing away with the retail meat and butchery side of things?It’s a little bit sad. Every single person who came in here that was a hardcore meat buyer was like, “Can I still buy meat? Can I still buy my collar steaks?” And no, you can’t, I’m sorry. All the savory cooks will still be breaking down the meat and still be making sausages, but there will no longer be retail purchases. We can’t do everything. But it’s exciting to do something different. We hate that we disappointed some folks with switching it up, but hopefully we’ll make other people happy. I’m excited for that moment when you’ve got the place full, people eating, things flowing.
Your shop was always popular around the holidays with special orders of pies and meat. Is any of that still going to be in play?Everything will be the same with special orders for pies and sweets. But no ham. It’s going to be a rough holiday season with all these phone calls.
Do you think that customers will find the food offerings to be pretty familiar, or surprising?
We had all these things that we make, like marinated meats or gyoza, that people took home and cooked. We’ll still have those things, but [now] actually cook them all the way. So people will see slightly familiar flavor profiles or what they might have seen in the case, but cooked. And there will be surprising flavors. Justin doesn’t stop.
How do you two balance working together and living together?
It’s been great. Honestly, we don’t quite talk at work. It’s kind of funnywe’re in the same room, but I’m managing my side and he’s managing his side. Everything works separately, and at home we have dinner together every night. We’ve always tried to make Monday family day. Now that we have a baby, we’re going to be closed Monday and Tuesday in the beginning. We’re trying to make this work for our family as well.